Review: In Regards to Your Movie, ‘Saw V’

You were right, makers of Saw V, I didn’t believe how it ended. Or most of the rest of it. Or that any of you are literate.
By  · Published on October 26th, 2008

*** Shockingly, there might be a few spoilers, for this and the other Saw movies. ***

To Whom it May Concern:

It’s not hard for me to start out with the good stuff. After all, I’m a fan. I’ve liked Saw since the very beginning, and I’ve been along for the ride that each installment held in store for me, and in some ways, your fifth has a lot of those same factors. The gore is serious. The visual effects are grimace-inducingly real, and, seeing it at midnight with a ton of eager Saw fans, I can say with confidence that it was scary in the same deranged way the others in the series were (or at least the high-pitched screams and shouts of “Hell No!” indicated as much).

That being said, this is definitely the worst film of the series, and probably the worst horror film I’ve seen all year.

Yes, the atmosphere was there, but that was about it. Only about half the traps were intricate or interesting in any way – I suppose with the death of Jigsaw came the death of his genius even though he’s billed as the architect of these traps from beyond the grave. Clearly, the old Mad Man lost a step in his last days. Or maybe the new writers couldn’t handle the challenge. Either way.

Stop me if I’m wrong: basically, the movie was about Agent Strahm trying to connect the dots on Agent Hoffman’s relationship and partnership with Jigsaw while five people have to deal with a series of games meant to bring them together or tear them apart.

I didn’t realize that you were filming Saw V and Saw VI at the same time and then smashing them together into one movie. As cool as I think a Team Building Exercise ala Jigsaw is, the two plotlines in the film have nothing to do with each other. At all. Zero. It’s like two different short films meaninglessly thrown together. Plus, the plot featuring all the traps has the most inane “twist ending” – a lesson that Helen Keller could have seen coming from the moment the victims woke up.

Oh, and Julie Benz looked ridiculous in that wig. It was like the synthetic-weave version of Cary Elwes’s accent in the first film.

To be fair, I can understand the difficulty of juggling all those old stories and old characters – especially when you choose to make your main storyline a pointless rehash showing how the killer revealed in the last film was actually in on it from near the beginning – but next time you should try making the two main actors look at least a little bit different from one another. Either that or get some lighting. That’s right – lights! Invented in the early 19th century, this ingenious device would have allowed audiences to see what was going on in your movie! I know there’s nothing scary about people looking at files in every single frame, but creating a gritty atmosphere for people to look at files in every single frame isn’t much scarier. Next time, pool some money and get a Kino-Flo or two.

Now that I think about all that ominous office work, I think I can create a better plot break down:

Plot 1: Five strangers with an unnecessarily mysterious connection keep trying not to get blown up when they learn to stop being polite and start getting real while…

Plot 2: An FBI agent talks to himself a lot, looks at files, and visits the crime scenes from the first three films since the sets were probably just sitting around unused and already paid for.

If you want to use that in some of your marketing, feel free.

Of course, the absolute worst part about how arbitrary and unnecessary this installment was, is that the ethical element to Jigsaw’s work – the only thing that gave the series depth in the first place – is completely thrown out. The group playing the game ranges in evil deeds from arson to bureaucratic expediency. Whereas the earlier killings were all about valuing life and its gifts, the killings now seem empty, like pointless vigilante justice where the victims never really have a fighting chance at surviving or learning anything if they do.

That probably has to do more with the lackluster way the group goes about figuring out their connection. Had they done it sooner, the story could have been more vivid, and each person’s involvement could have been described in depth to give better reason as to why they were chosen in the first place. Instead, the mystery is boring and some of it isn’t ever revealed – we never even find out what one girl’s crime was – so characters are killed off with the same callousness as any unthinking, stock slasher flick.

And no one suffers more on this front then Agent Strahm who’s being hunted because he “keeps searching for something,” a factor that – wait for it – makes him a good detective. His lack of immorality throws the entire Jigsaw ethos and mystique out the window; Hoffman’s self-awareness of being captured (and choosing to punish the agent closest to doing so) negates the rigid methodology of killing by not-killing. Of teaching a lesson. Of learning to appreciate life.

Basically, you negated everything that was once interesting about the Saw series with one movie. Kudos.

But know that you did do one thing incredibly well. You advertised it accurately with your tagline that I wouldn’t “believe how it ends.” Since I expected to be entertained by another great Saw film, I could hardly believe that it ended with me walking out of the theater pissed off and ready to demand the money I wasted on the ticket returned to me. I’ve got to admit – that was a twist I didn’t see coming, even if everything else about your movie was obvious from the opening credits.

Respectfully yours,

Cole Abaius

P.S. – Jigsaw is your franchise. Making a movie without him just doesn’t work. Think about that while writing the next twelve installments.

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